diamond geezer

 Tuesday, July 05, 2016

We're none of us immortal, and one day I am going to stop blogging. That might be a conscious planned decision, it might follow some irreversible technical dysfunction, or it might be the result of unexpected incapacity. Rest assured that none of the above are currently on the cards, as far as I'm aware, so you needn't yet fear for your daily dose of DG. But one day there'll be a last post, and the next day there'll be no post, and this blog will live on only as a fading archive.

If my departure is unexpected, you may not initially notice that anything is up. I could fall off a stepladder or be electrocuted or suffer a heart attack at any time after seven o'clock in the morning and you'd not see any difference until the following day. One of the joys of living alone is that nobody else is around to spot you're nearly dead, increasing the likelihood of you ending up that way if your mobile's out of reach.

Because I post so regularly, a change in behaviour is always going to be relatively easy to spot. I only have to have not posted something by 8am and some people get twitchy, and by 9am somebody's usually posted a comment wondering if I'm OK. Today it took until quarter to twelve, but then there was a steady stream, split between missing out on having something to read and keeping their fingers crossed everything was fine.

Which is lovely really, really lovely, thanks. But also my own fault for maintaining the record of at least one post a day over a considerable period, so it always looks wrong when that pattern breaks down. Life would be easier if I could throw my hands in the air sometimes and say "hell, you know what, not today", or if I had a stash of articles in reserve to bring out when time is limited or inspiration weak, except I've never managed to create a stockpile, and rarely write anything more than a day in advance.

I did get a text this morning from a friend asking if I was alive, and an email from a member of the family checking whether the hiatus was deliberate. In both cases I was able to respond in the affirmative, but let's imagine for a moment that I hadn't. My silence could have meant I was unwell, or out having a good time, or unexpectedly off-grid, or dead. In the absence of any follow-up posts it's friends and family who are best placed to work out what's actually going on, and maybe work out how best to break my door down, and then to pass on the potentially bad news.

Should the end of blogging be announced by anyone other than me, it's unlikely to be in a post. Nobody else has my Blogger password, or access to my laptop, so the critical information will probably appear in the comments before being spread on social media. And that'll be odd, a totally random last post with a torrent of comments, none of which I'll ever read, followed by nothing at all.

For a while the blog'll look normal, indeed you might even come back and take a look, but eventually the number of visitors will drop back to mere background noise. The first physical thing that'll go noticeably wrong is likely to be that my Flickr subscription expires and thousand of links stop working, as well as certain embedded photos which could create a bit of a mess. Various spam comments will soon appear which I won't be around to delete, and the content will look increasingly out of date.

Then at some point Blogger is going to change something, and that's going to mess everything up. I don't know what that change'll be, maybe an enforced template update or a request for authentication, and I don't know when. But every few years they throw a new grenade into the mix, and this time I'm not going to be able to respond and adapt, so the blog may be tweaked into something unreadable or reduced to an unusable rump. Sorry about that, in advance.

And I'm afraid it's no good thinking "oh it's OK, the British Library are archiving the site". They last archived the site just before the Olympics, so nothing published after May 2012 is there, plus only the last ten or so days of each month have been saved thanks to that ghastly pagination feature Blogger introduced a few years back. No, there really is every possibility of several thousand posts I spent years of my life writing vanishing forever, leaving not much of a legacy or maybe none at all. At least I'll never know.

Whatever, I've definitely made a rod for my own back by posting every day, because you (and I) have now come to expect it. It might be better if I broke the pattern and occasionally skipped a day, except I just haven't, so expectations on both sides remain high. Nothing's really changed, even if for a few hours it looked like it had. But it's chastening to note that were I ever to suffer a stroke or some other incapacity whilst at home, the fact I hadn't posted anything remains my best chance of being rescued.


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